January 15, 2009

In Today's Issue:


United Fresh Launches Interactive Card-Check Resource Center

Card-Check CenterRecently, United Fresh has heard from many members concerned about federal legislation that will be considered during the 111th Congress. This legislation, dubbed the Employee Free Choice Act, and commonly referred to as "card-check" legislation, will fundamentally change union certification procedures and will serve to erode employees' workplace security and upset the important balance between the interests of union leadership and those of employers.

Because of this concern we have created an interactive Card-Check Resource Center on our United Fresh website that will provide our members important information about this legislation and its impact on the produce industry. You will also be able to take action firsthand by using our Grassroots Action Network to write a letter to your Member of Congress and Senators expressing your concerns about this legislation.

As this issue moves forward in Congress we will continue to update this webpage to provide you the latest information along with additional grassroots action items with which you can get involved. For more information, contact Kam Quarles, vice president of government relations and legislative affairs at 202-303-3400 ext. 427.


COOL Final Rule to be Printed in the Federal Register Today

COOLThe U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it will publish the final rule on mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) in the Federal Register today. You can review the final rule, which will go into effect March 16 of this year, here.

United Fresh staff and outside legal experts are now reviewing the 260-page publication and will soon issue our final guide for the industry in complying with the new regulations. This document will complement the previous guidance documents that United Fresh has provided its members, which can be found at our Country of Origin Labeling Resource Center.

Since legislation mandating COOL became law with the 2002 Farm Bill, United Fresh has worked closely with USDA and congressional leaders to see that regulations developed to implement the law were fair, practical and cost-effective for the produce industry. As part of the final rule, USDA took into account many of the recommendations that United Fresh proposed in their comments regarding the interim final rule. These include that the final rule should:

  • Maintain definition of a processed food item
  • Maintain the ability for the use of state, regional or locality designation
  • Clarify the need for no new record keeping as prescribed in the law
  • Clarify that pre-labeled products are sufficient evidence for retailers to utilize at retail level and no additional record-keeping is required
  • Clearly state that suppliers may convey country of origin information to retailers through any method of their choosing in order to comply with the regulation.
  • Reinstate "safe harbor" provision for retailers and suppliers.


Recall, Crisis Course Comes to Atlanta in March

RecallUnited Fresh announced Monday that it will hold its Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire course in four locations in 2009. The first 2009 installment of Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire, will be held March 25-27 at the Doubletree Club Atlanta Airport North hotel in Atlanta, Ga. 

Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire is a multi-part course, including a two-day workshop on how to prevent a product recall from becoming a crisis and optional media training.  The first part of the course emphasizes the legal liability and business implications of a recall, the importance of traceability, and how to apply a crisis plan to product recall situations.  Attendees receive a Certificate of Competition at the end of the two-day course.

A separate media course includes training by communications and public affairs specialists on how to deliver messages under the pressure of a real-life interview. To ensure each attendee will have an opportunity to experience on-camera mock media interviews, the class size for the half-day media training is limited and requires a separate registration.

For more information, contact Education Coordinator Julie Jacocks at 202-303-3400 ext. 405. Click here for a complete schedule of all 2009 courses.


Steve Forbes to Address Produce Industry

United Fresh 2009United Fresh is proud to announce the opening of registration for the United Fresh 2009 convention, April 21-24 at the Sands MegaCenter in Las Vegas, Nev.

Steve ForbesUnited Fresh 2009 attendees will kick off their convention experience this year with expert navigation of today’ s uncharted economic waters from Steve Forbes, Chairman and CEO of Forbes, Inc. and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine.

In his keynote address, How Capitalism Will Save Us, Forbes will share his personal insight on what must happen to turn around today’s economic crisis and how soon recovery may begin worldwide.  Produce industry leaders are sure to identify with his strong entrepreneurial message in which small business can lead the way to increased productivity and growth with the right government incentives.

Visit our website to learn about these other United Fresh 2009 events:

  • United FreshTech & Fresh Marketplace
  • Education Workshops & Trade Show Learning Centers
  • Viva Las Vegas Opening Party at Tao Beach
  • The United Fresh Reception Honoring Women in Produce
  • Supply Chain Breakfasts & Super Sessions
  • Luncheon General Session and Produce Outlook 2009
  • Unveiling of United Fresh Issues Scan 2009 Consumer Research
  • Chairman’s Reception and Awards Banquet
  • United Fresh Foundation Golf Tournament
  • New Product Competition
  • …and much, much more!!!

To register or for more information, log on to www.unitedfresh.org today!


What Are You Doing February 24th and 25th?

ReminderGood Agricultural Practices (GAPs) affect everyone in the produce industry, as will changes to FDA's 1998 Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, better known as the GAPs Guide. In anticipation of those changes, United Fresh is set to host a two-day public workshop on the GAPs Guide, February 24-25 in the Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia area.

"The GAPs Guide applies to all fresh fruit and vegetable production and harvest operations – asparagus and apples to watermelons and zucchini; root crops, row crops, bush and tree crops; large operations and small; across the U.S. and imports," said Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology for United Fresh. "FDA’s changes to the GAPs Guide will affect over a hundred thousand farming operations.  It’s important that all of those operations have a voice in how the Guide should be changed and how those changes will affect them."

While a venue has yet to be finalized, the workshop will feature speakers from FDA, USDA, the National GAPs program and state and regional programs, as well asn an opportunity for attendees to share their views and have questions answered. Proceedings from the meeting will be provided to FDA, to be considered when they revise the Guide this year. All GAPs stakeholders are invited and should attend this meeting.  More information on location and how to register will be published soon, and stay connected to www.unitedfresh.org for details.


Application Period Open for Produce Leadership Class 15

DupontThe United Fresh Research & Education Foundation has opened the application period for the 15th annual class of the Produce Industry Leadership Program. Made possible through a generous grant from DuPont Crop Protection, the program is a special opportunity for United Fresh members to advance their leadership skills and knowledge. United Fresh invites all eligible members to apply.  

The Leadership Program is an exclusive program for United Fresh members. It is the only ongoing, fully paid national leadership program for the produce industry.  Candidates interested in applying for the program can download information and an application from the United Fresh website. The deadline for applications is March 2, 2009.

The Leadership Program was launched in 1995 and is developed around four fundamental goals: Leadership Development, Business Relationships, Government & Public Affairs and Media & Public Relations. During the year-long program, participants will take part in a series of customized trips including face-to-face meetings with leading industry players, hands-on training with top industry experts and educators through a specially designed curriculum at the University of California at Davis, interactive experiences with influential leaders in Washington, D.C., and much more. This year's schedule will feature trips to Central/Northern California, Washington, D.C., Wilmington, Del., and Culiacan, Mexico. The class will graduate at the 2010 United Fresh convention in Las Vegas, Nev.

Leadership Program

Program applications are examined by an Advisory Committee and narrowed to 12 individuals from a cross-section of the industry to represent the breadth of the United Fresh membership. Since the program’s inception, more than 160 industry members have participated. United Fresh Board member and Leadership Class 6 graduate Mike Martin of Rio Queen Citrus, Inc., will serve as the Chairman of the 2009 Advisory Committee. 

"The Produce Industry Leadership Program is an opportunity for the industry to recognize and foster leadership among the next generation of great minds in produce," said Martin. "This is an excellent opportunity for anyone who is interested in building a strong, foundational knowledge of the broader produce industry and significantly enhancing their ability to be an effective leader. I encourage any interested applicants to apply today."

Leadership Program

For more information, contact Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services at 202-303-3400 ext. 408.


DEFRA Launches One-Stop Shop Farming Guide

DEFRAOn Tuesday of this week, the British Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) launched Protecting Our Water, Soil and Air: A Code of Good Agricultural Practice for Farmers, Growers and Land managers.  The publication consolidates three previous codes last published in 1998 into one document.  Protecting Our Water, Soil and Air offers farm staff and contractors who handle, store, use, spread or dispose of any substances that could pollute water, soil or air a practical interpretation of legislation and offers best practice advice at no cost.  This publication explains that all farm staff and contractors should be aware of their responsibilities and know about the causes and results of pollution as well as how and when to operate and maintain the equipment they use, and what to do in an emergency. The code is appropriate for all farming systems in the U.K., including organic farming, and will assist farmers, growers, and other land managers to make the most appropriate choices for their individual situations.


United Fresh Co-Sponsors HACCP-based Food Safety Program at University of Georgia

UGAUnited Fresh, the University of Georgia Food Science Extension Outreach Program, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and the Southeast Produce Council have partnered to present an expanded, three-day HACCP based, produce-specific food safety program designed to teach safe produce farming and handling practices. The seminar, Developing & Implementing GAPs and GMPs for HACCP-based Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry will be held February 10-12 at the University of Georgia’s Extension Food Science Training Facility in Athens, Ga. In addition to a thorough discussion of the latest research on produce food safety, Good Agricultural Practices(GAPs) and Good Management Practices (GMPs), this workshop will cover the elements of putting together a comprehensive food safety program for an on-farm or packinghouse operation.


EU Approves New Pesticide Legislation

UGAOn Tuesday, the European Parliament approved new pesticides legislation which requires implementation by all 27 member states by early 2011.  The legislation will increase the number of pesticides available to member states, however it will simultaneously ban the use of certain dangerous chemicals found in these products.  The legislation was approved to ensure the safer use of pesticides in daily use, and pesticides currently in the marketplace will remain available until their existing authorization expires.  As a result, the market should not experience a large-scale withdrawal of products.  Instead, the Swedish Chemicals Agency which conducted a scientific assessment expects that only 22 dangerous substances will be removed from the market as a result of the new legislation. 


Southeast Fruit & Vegetable Growers Host Successful Conference

SERFVCMore than 2,000 attendees visited Savannah, Ga. this past weekend for this year’s Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference.  United Fresh joined in the many activities, with President Tom Stenzel and Senior Vice President of Food Safety & Technology Dr. David Gombas speaking on food safety and traceability, as well as hosting a booth on the trade show floor.

"I was tremendously impressed with the turn-out and enthusiasm among the growers for hands-on education, even in these tough economic times," Tom said.  "Charles Hall and the team at Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association did a great job working with all the other regional fruit and vegetable associations on the conference," he said.

Director of Membership Miriam Miller also reported strong interest among regional growers in the upcoming United Fresh 2009 convention and United's grower-only membership.  For more information about any of these United Fresh programs, please contact Miriam at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.


New 2009 Chairman's Roundtable Supporters

United Fresh's Chairman's Roundtable provides extra support for programs in government relations, food safety, nutrition policy and other areas to help grow the produce industry. We are pleased to recognize the following companies who have committed to the Chairman's Roundtable in 2009:

Chairman's Roundtable
  • Pro*Act, LLC, Monterey, Calif
  • Sadex Corporation, Sioux City, Iowa

The Chairman's Roundtable is an opportunity for United Fresh member companies to contribute above and beyond their basic dues. Roundtable members are industry leaders who set the pace in building United's strength in areas that do not generate their own revenue. Members of the Chairman's Roundtable enjoy special recognition throughout the year for their support.

For more information on the Chairman's Roundtable, please contact Director of Membership Miriam Miller at 202-303-3410.


New Member Welcome

Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:

  • Freedom Fresh, Miami, Fla.
  • Haofeng (Qingdao) Food Co., Ltd., Qingdao, China
  • Produce Distribution Center, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Sadex Corporation, Sioux City, Iowa.
Welcome
United Fresh thanks all current members for their dedication to the Association and the produce industry. Please let us know whenever we can be of service to you. For more details about the benefits of membership, please contact Jeff Oberman or Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400.


Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events


News & Views

U.S. NEWS:

News and Views

Coming year looks mostly sour for Florida citrus

Kee tapped as Delaware Ag Secretary

Obama and Vilsack make a great pair for American Ag

Kentucky WIC program to promote healthier choices

President-elect keeps Comerford as White House Chef

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

ECPA's Schmider calls for clarification on EU pesticide ruling

Australian study finds industry withheld bad E. coli information on meat, good E. coli information on lettuce

Organic support grows across United Arab Emirates

Arizona State team wins grant to study safety of Mexican produce

New quality trademark for Israeli produce from Arava region


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